1811: Best-Tasting Colors

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Best-Tasting Colors
I recognize that chocolate is its own thing on which reasonable people may differ. Everything else here is objective fact.
Title text: I recognize that chocolate is its own thing on which reasonable people may differ. Everything else here is objective fact.


In this comic, Randall rates colors based on tastiness of various flavors, which makes it very similar to 388: Fuck Grapefruit. The colors are sorted in descending order (from most tasty to least tasty) by the midpoint of their overall taste range. However, since these foods are all commonly imitated for artificial flavorings, and the colors are consistent with the standard food colorings used as dye in candies with these flavorings, it's likely that this is Randall's rating of artificial flavors rather than the actual products.

Within each color, several individual items are placed at points marked by dots along a tastiness scale, with nine ticks ranging from bad (1) to good (9). For example, within the pink color band at the very top, watermelon is only rated 6/9 — much less tasty than cotton candy, which is almost at 9/9, making it the very best tasting flavor in the chart. Interestingly, watermelon is mentioned twice, as it is also listed under green. Usually people do not eat the green part of a watermelon,[citation needed] so it is strange that Randall has rated both types at almost the same level of tastiness. It could be that he sees the green watermelon as green, but also sees the pink fruit inside, so it is actually the pink fruit that is rated for both colors, or the chart is a rating of candy (such as jellybean or popsicle) flavors, as it is not uncommon for both green and pink to represent watermelon in those situations.

For pink, blue and white there are one, two and three regions, respectively labeled with "???". It is not clear what the purpose of these is. Perhaps they indicate regions in which Randall is unable to think of any examples, and is inviting the reader to speculate. For instance, are there any pink-colored foods more tasty than watermelon (6/9) but less tasty than cotton candy (8.5/9)? It could also be that he thinks there must be other interesting foods with this color, which could seem to be the case for white and blue, where there are a group of question marks above the most tasty labeled flavor blue raspberries and vanilla for white. The latter is yet a joke, as vanilla is black, but is often used in white food such as vanilla ice, which he may have been thinking off, or just again messes with his readers.

The question marks thus imply an arbitrary tastiness assigned to a color that is not derived from an actual data point, however. For instance, the only blue datapoint is "blue raspberry", assigned a ranking of 5.5. But the range assigned to blue as a whole is 4 to 8. The regions on either side of the blue raspberry dot are labeled with ???.

There are a few exceptions with chocolate the most obvious as Randall makes a wide range for chocolate for brown, ranging from 2.5-9.5 out of 9. And the arrows here ends in single question marks indicating that the range could be even longer. In the title text he acknowledges the fact chocolate is its own thing and that regarding its taste reasonable people may differ in opinion.

The region for chocolate could not go further down because below the section for chocolate for brown food, there is another range with some other brown food items that Randall really does not like, caramel and especially coffee at 1.5/9. It may seem that Randall has never grown up to drink the drinks that society often dictates that you should drink. Not drinking Coffee (or hating it when you do) can be a problem with all the coffee breaks and meetings held over coffee etc. And as Randall has shown in 1534: Beer he also doesn't like beer...

Although it is not so clear as with chocolate pistachio is also split up with three lines indicating a range on the green from about 5 to 7 without any assigned point to their taste. And finally popcorn at 1.5/9 simply falls below the otherwise already low and slim rating range for yellow foods (2.5-3.5) with only lemon at 3/9 included. Many people love popcorn, but not especially for the corns actual taste, which is non existing if not for the adding of salt or sugar or other additives.

The worst taste by far to Randall, though, is licorice, and black food has a very small range from almost below 1 to less than 1.5. In USA it seems few people like licorice (although as most of the other mentioned food items, it may come in a wide variety of flavors and strengths). But in for instance northern Europe (Scandinavia) many people love it. See more explanations for all the mentioned flavors in the table below. It also seems that Randall's taste has changed over the nine years since the grapefruit comic.

In the title text, Randall asserts that his rankings of colors and flavors are indisputable (with the exception of chocolate). This together with rather obscure flavors included ("blue raspberry", "creamsicle") rather than more obvious choices, such as banana for yellow and carrot for orange could be a jab at the reception of his first food ranking comic, 388: Fuck Grapefruit which ranked fruits based on their tastiness and ease of consumption. Randall claims that it is the most controversial piece he has ever published. So all this is maybe just a way to generate even more controversy about this comic, and based on the discussion below he may have succeeded.

In 882: Significant researchers were studying the effect of eating 20 differently colored types of jelly beans (and all colors here are included except white).


Color Item Explanation Rating (Approx.)
Pink Cotton Candy Randall seems to like cotton candy. This treat is sold in many places, most notably carnivals. 95%
Watermelon Watermelon is a fruit that is used as a processed candy flavoring, especially in hard candies, and is usually very sweet and pink in color. The actual fruit is made of 95 percent water. 63%
Red Strawberry Strawberries are a seeded fruit which are usually sweet and red. They are of relatively small size. 93%
Cherry Cherries are red fruits that range from very tart to very sweet in taste. 86%
Raspberry Raspberries are reddish-pink fruits (though Randall lists them under red) that are in the more tart category of fruits. 55%
Blue Blue Raspberry Blue-colored raspberries are not found in nature. While some bramble fruit species and cultivars are sometimes referred to as "blue raspberry" - notably Rubus leucodermis - the actual color of such fruit varies between purple and black as it matures, closer to that of blackberries than for example blueberries.

While not a real fruit color, "blue raspberry" is nevertheless a common artificial flavor, ostensibly based on Rubus leucodermis. Products featuring this flavor are often artificially colored bright blue (nowhere near the hue of Rubus leucodermis fruit), contributing to the perceived association between the color and the flavor among general population.

Green Green Apple Green apples are usually more sweet than red apples, which are not listed, and are Randall's favorite apple. He mentioned a dislike for red apples in his what if? Blog 84%
Watermelon (Rind?) While the red part of a watermelon and the pink watermelon flavoring used in candy are widely eaten and sweet, the green rind is hard and not normally eaten. It could also be a reference to how some types of candy color their "watermelon" flavor as green. 60%
Mint Mint is a herb that can be considered as spicy by some people, which makes it unappealing to them. 38%
Lime Limes are a green, sour fruit sharing many traits with lemons. These are rarely eaten as fruit, but can be served with water or beer. 31%
Pistachio Pistachios are green nuts. Randall seems unsure of where to place these on the chart. 47% to 70%
White Vanilla Randall is likely playing with expectations here. Vanilla and vanilla bean are both dark brown, not white. But vanilla ice cream is white thanks to the cream, milk, and sugar used in its creation. The brown is nearly invisible in the ice cream, either as vanilla extract mixed in or as minute flakes of vanilla bean in exceptional vanilla ice creams. 65%
White Chocolate White chocolate is disliked by many people who assert that it is "not real chocolate" because it contains no cocoa solids and is mainly cocoa butter and sugar. 19%
Brown Chocolate Chocolate is given a very wide range. While widely recognized as a classic candy, containing the chemical phenylethylamine which literally makes the human brain happier, there are also very staunch and not rare people who clearly and adamantly don't like it. There are also many varieties of chocolate with varying degrees of sweetness -- and, not coincidentally, colors to help differentiate them. Randall deems the whole situation too complex to assign to only one data point. 38% to 86%. (range of text area)
Caramel Caramel is a liquid-like substance usually drizzled on desserts. "Caramel" can also refer to the coloring. Randall seems to enjoy caramel less than many people. 19%
Coffee While widely enjoyed by many people, coffee is a bitter beverage (or bean). Many people add sugar and/or cream to their coffee (or cover the beans in chocolate) to make it palatable. Clearly Randall does not like black coffee (coffee with no sweeteners or additives) 5%
Orange Creamsicle Orange creamsicle is an ice pop sold by Popsicle. It is known as a favorite among the Popsicle lineup. 47%
Orange Oranges are round fruits similar in size to an apple. Randall appears to dislike oranges, maybe because of their slightly sour flavoring or the difficulty of opening one up.

Interestingly, in this comic Randall rates oranges as tasting worse than lemons, while in 388: Fuck Grapefruit, it was lemons he charted as tasting significantly worse.

Yellow Popcorn?! Popcorn is a very popular food item, but not for its flavor. By itself it has nearly no flavor, and the usual toppings of salt and butter are some of the most basic cravings the human tongue asks for. 5%
Lemon Lemons by themselves have a very strong sour flavor. Many people, apparently including Randall, do not like this taste raw or on its own, though some do. To make lemons appealing to those who don't like very sour things, they are instead added as ingredients in a much larger dish, often with sugar added to balance the sourness. 27%
Purple Grape Randall apparently does not like Concord grapes, a small, oval-like purple fruit. He did not list green grapes, though. But given his previous comic 388: Fuck Grapefruit it seems likely that he like the green grapes very much as they were listed as some of the most tasty fruits 15%
Black Licorice Licorice has a strong bitter and spicy flavor. It is made from the root of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. Most Americans tend to find it a very unpleasant flavor. It would appear that Randall resides within that majority. 0.1%


[Caption above the chart:]
Best-Tasting Colors
[Below the caption there is a scale with two large ticks (with labels written above) at either end and seven smaller ticks in between for nine ticks in total. The labels:]
[Below the scale to the left is a numbered list of ten colors. Black double arrows goes under the scale. On the arrows there are labeled points, but there is also questions marks and other exceptions where text is not pointing to a point. Labels appear both above and below the arrows, but here the text is listed as it appears on the scale from left (bad) to right (good):]
1. Pink - Watermelon, ???, Cotton candy
2. Red - Raspberry, Cherry, Strawberry
3. Blue - ???, Blue raspberry, ???
4. Green - Lime, Mint, Pistachio??, Watermelon, Green apple
5. White - ???, White chocolate, ???, Vanilla, ???
6. Brown - Coffee, Caramel ? [However you feel about chocolate] ?
7. Orange - Orange, Creamsicle
8. Yellow - Popcorn?!, Lemon
9. Purple - Grape
10. Black - Licorice

  • Click to expand for a more detailed description:

[There is no more text from the comic below here:]
[Below the scale to the left is a numbered list of ten colors, the name of the color written in said color (white written on a gray background). From the color goes a thin gray line out under the scale. At different points and lengths along the scale there appear black double arrows pointing to two lines. The gray line never extends beyond the black arrows to the right. On the line of these arrows there are one to four points, that have all been labeled with gray text (both above and below the arrow to which the labels belong).]
[Five places on three arrows there are groups of three questions marks which relates to a region on the arrow rather than a point, either with three lines pointing to the arrow (once for pink and trice for white) or just standing close beneath the arrow (twice for blue). There are only three other exceptions.]
[First there is pistachio which has no point but has three lines going from the text to the arrow for green.]
[Second there is chocolate, which has its own double arrow where the ends do not end in lines but in questions marks. The arrow is broken by a square bracket with normal black text written on two lines within it. This arrow thus does not connect with the other "normal" arrow for brown to the left of the chocolate arrow.]
[Third there is a point that is outside the black arrow for yellow on the gray line for popcorn. That is the only place where the gray line exceeds any black markings as it is only broken by the dot and then continues further to the arrow.]

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It's possible that the watermelon being in the green section could be in reference to watermelon rind pickles 22:22, 11 March 2022 (UTC)

This is obviously wrong because white chocolate is not real chocolate. Let the flamewar begin. -- 15:22, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Well, it's not technically chocolate, but it is a derivative -- insert math joke -- and the chart doesn't seem to be concerned with what it is, just with what it's called; after all, that which is called white chocolate by any other name would taste just as sweet, putting some off while others enjoy it. Nyperold (talk) 16:44, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
As per your request: http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/626:_Newton_and_Leibniz 22:08, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Purple skittles in France taste like blueberry. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Vanilla isn't white. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Yeah, but lots of candies use white to mean vanilla-flavored. Trogdor147 (talk) 21:11, 13 July 2023 (UTC)
Perhaps because of the particular small font that I use, I first read that as "candles" that were vanilla-flavored. ;) 22:57, 13 July 2023 (UTC)

What are all of the question marks here for? 15:51, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

I think those question marks at the top are supposed to be bubble gum. 16:03, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

I suspect this is Randall's take on Fake News™, since it contains verifiably false claims such as coffee and liquorice being bad, and candy floss being better than watermelon 16:12, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

"In the title text, Randall asserts that his rankings of colors and foods are indisputable (with the exception of chocolate). This is of course ridiculous, as everyone knows that watermelon and strawberry are inherently superior to the likes of Citrus Fruits."...but his rankings of strawberry and of watermelon (x2) are higher than for oranges, lemons, and limes. There is no contradiction here; nothing that is ridiculous. 16:29, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Liquorice, while an acquired taste certainly doesn't belong that far down, I'd take it over a long list of other things on the chart, but then again ... I'm Scandinavian (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Sweet liquorice, or salted? I'm pretty sure there should be two dots there. Also, coffee and chocolate are both missing from the right end of the 'black' row. Most of the others, I think I'd flip the line, but keep each line in the same place. I guess taste is variable in weird ways 21:56, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Hmm. The selection seems quite diverse compared to a standard bag of jelly beans, but doesn't really cover the range of a gourmet brand. I wonder where root beer falls, or Dr Pepper. And that's not even getting into color classification when the bean has more than one color. Personally, when I used to get gourmet jelly bean brands, I would do the squeeze-and-sniff test on a particular shade of brown, because it was used for both coffee and a flavor I liked. I remember Lore Sjöberg having a similar problem with cinnamon and cherry, but if he ever arrived at my solution, I don't know. Nyperold (talk) 16:44, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Interesting theory that he's talking about flavors of jelly beans, though there's really nothing to indicate he is. But I believe every one of those food flavors are included in, for example, Jelly Belly's lineup (with the possible exception of a White Chocolate flavor). -boB (talk) 17:00, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
My take upon reading the comic was that it refers to Jelly Bellies. If you have ever tried a popcorn jelly belly you know how bad they are.... 23:32, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
I really like the "buttered popcorn" Jelly Bellys -boB (talk) 17:27, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
If you look at https://www.jellybelly.com/flavor-guides webpage though a lot of flavors from the comics are not jelly belly flavors.--Lul (talk) 11:52, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

I enjoy licorice and white chocolate, and I think strawberry is overrated. Fight me. 17:34, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

I don't think its necessarily jelly beans specifically. I think it's any candy that comes with multiple flavors in a pack, including jelly beans but not limited to them. (ie. also fruit snacks, Airheads, Necco Wafers, Jolly Ranchers, Sourpatch Kids, etc.) 16:47, 11 March 2020 (UTC)

If it is jelly beans it is definitely more agreeable then actual food. Because popcorn jelly beans are awful which explains why there a outlier. It also explains why there split by color. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It could also explain the question marks. They could be jelly beans for which he was not able to identify the flavor, but was able to judge it. 13:16, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Wow. I've seen stupidity, I've seen REAL stupidity, and now there comes this comic. Randall is confirmed for pleb taste. Also quit fucking editing my posts just because I have an objectively better taste than you do and it offends you that someone would call randall out on having shit taste in flavors. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm a retard pretending i'm superior by liking certain fruits. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

My tastes now rate sweet tastes poorly - as well as sour, so I would down rate candyfloss, but not up rate lemon. The variability of chocolate represents the range from choc flavoured sweet margarine, through to 90% coco solids. My peak preference being about 50-60%. RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 18:14, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Patrician taste good sir. Though, I respectfully disagree with your opinion on sour only somewhat: Lemons combined with other flavors make lemons pretty dang tasty. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Has anyone figured out what all the question marks in the graph are for yet? 20:08, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

All the question marks made me wonder if he accidentally published an early draft again or something. 20:44, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

I'm fairly sure the question marks are related to lewd matters. KromdarTheAllHungering (talk) 02:56, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

Hi, I added a table. Can somebody fix and fill it as I am not the best at tablework (as you can see). Dontknow (talk) 02:45, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

Fixed and partially filled! Cody Code (talk) 03:52, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

I removed the incomplete. The table is completely filled and there is a good explanation. Dontknow (talk) 21:47, 21 March 2017 (UTC)


As the transcript is for the visually impaired, I think the colored letters should only be used in the explanation and described [pink letters] in the transcript; what do you think? --LaVe (talk) 21:06, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

The transcript is not only for visually impaired. Nevertheless those translation programs know colors. Be smart. And a simple bold header is enough at the discussion page.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:14, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

“Most people” do not like licorice; Most Americans, you mean. Licorice is extremely popular in Europe in many varieties. But they don’t like root beer. 06:04, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

AFAIR in pretty much every food item common to the US and the UK, the US version had a far larger sugar content. My theory is that salt was more expensive that sugar everywhere but the coastal regions, so preserving with sugar was the way to go and hence the apparent national "sweet tooth" RoyT (talk) 08:04, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
Hello. As a european myself, i can assure you that Licorice is not extremly popular here, except among some loners, who are recieved and watched critically by their fellow europeans. Most people in Europe don't like it. Also, most people in Europe heard of rootbeer, but nearly noone ever drank it - i wouldn't even know where to get it here. -- 10:08, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
You can't speak for most people in Europe. Tastes are really different according to which countries you speak about. There are lot of European alcohols with licorice flavors and also lot of licorice candies... -- Lul (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Wait, lemons? I like lemons. Anyone with an excess of raw lemons for eating should send me them. I would eat them consistently if it weren't for the fact that doing so makes my gums sore afterwards. I've several times distilled lemon juice into a much, much stronger "lemon syrup" with about 1/10th the volume and the consistency of maple syrup, and my general feeling is that I would eat it like candy if it were widely available, even though it has virtually no sugar in it. Lemon flavor is best flavor! 07:51, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

Lemon juice has plenty of sugar in it. That's why it's used for invisible ink. 08:28, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
I want to try lemon syrup now; bet it would be perfect for pancakes. -- 18:31, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Why are those values approximate when they have four significant figures? 08:28, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

How are bananas not included? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The watermelon flavor of Airheads candy is completely green. Also, many watermelon candies partially include a green part to mimic the appearance of watermelon, and even though they taste the same, may elicit a false feeling of tasting better. 12:04, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

"???" refers to the mystery Dum Dums flavor. I'm pretty sure about this. 21:18, 21 March 2017 (UTC) This is some manchild pleb taste. "EWW COFFY NASTY >:( MOMMY I WANT SWEET :O" seriously. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

People can have opinions. You don't need to take opinions you disapprove of to be "stupid" and "immature", you.

The question marks for blue might have to do with George Carlin's lament over the lack of blue food.CoderLass (talk) 21:53, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

So Randall talks about the flavor of colors based on the food they are associated with, but he says "blue" and doesn't mention blueberries and says "black" but doesn't mention blackberries? WHAT? Were they just not good enough? --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 15:18, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

I took this as being about artificial colors. That also explains the ??? areas. So, it is a guide for when getting e.g. icecream, bubblegum, yoghurt, etc. to which colour to pick, regardless of their labels... am I really alone with this? --Lupo (talk) 12:26, 1 October 2019 (UTC)

Cotton candy's original color is obviously white, how did it managed to end up as pink at all? Also, Randall have a good metaphorical taste, but a terrible literal one. 03:08, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

I think cotton candy being rated highest is a joke not mentioned so far. As another commenter mentions above, an alternate (English?) name for the product is "candy floss". It's literally sugar, just served in the form of fibers. It has the following flavor: sugar. (I understand that some cotton candy is now flavored. Nevertheless, it's "cheap fruit-flavored candy" in that case, which no adult can actually like.) Randall was kidding. Nitpicking (talk) 04:07, 10 December 2022 (UTC)